Jolene Guthrie of JAG Knitwear has turned her hobby into career.
How and why did you start in business?
I studied Textile Design at Dundee University and then a Masters in Knitwear design at Heriot-Watt and wanted to turn my passion for creating fashionable knitwear from hobby to career.
How did you get where you are today?
During my undergraduate degree studies, I spent a summer interning for a London knitwear brand and then, following the completion of my Masters degree, I worked with Debenhams, Hayley Scanlan, Tom Pigeon and Bill Baber.
I learned so much from this experience – from design techniques through to business administration.
This led to my first full-time position as a designer, in July 2018, working for a knitwear supplier in Peterborough and moving down to England.
I moved back up to Dundee and launched JAG Knitwear in July 2019.
Who has helped you along the way?
I have had a lot of advice from Business Gateway and have been to lots of their workshops covering business planning, marketing and finance.
It can be lonely and overwhelming starting a new business so I’d highly recommend getting in touch with them for some support.
My Business Gateway adviser also recommended that I take part in the Elevator Creative Accelerator course in Perth.
What was your biggest mistake?
I’d say my biggest mistake would be not having the confidence to start my brand sooner.
I’ve always known that this is what I wanted to do, I just never had enough faith in myself to pursue it.
It would have been easier to stay in a steady job but I’m so happy I’ve taken this leap.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement is having a successful first season selling my designs. There is no better feeling than seeing someone wearing a product you have designed, knitted and finished yourself.
Just having the courage to go it alone was an achievement in itself but it’s been great having a bit of success, too.
Hopes for the future?
I’d like for JAG to be a recognised brand within the UK market and beyond.
I’m looking to further develop professional relationships with new stockists and hope to open a studio and shop.
Ideally, I’d like customers to be able to visit, be part of the design process and see behind the scenes.
In the short term, I’m building a good working relationship with my former employer, Bill Baber Knitwear, as a small batch manufacturer.
What is the hardest thing about running your own business?
Time, and not having enough of it. I’m still new to the world of entrepreneurship and learning how to be efficient with my time and resources. I’m looking to work with freelancers in future who will hopefully help to lighten my day-to-day workload and allow me to focus on pushing the business forward and developing new products.
Any advice to wannabe entrepreneurs?
Follow your passion, believe in yourself and, ultimately, make a career out of something you love doing.